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Oklahoma Football Press Conference: Lincoln Riley discusses life after Mike Stoops

After having last weekend off, the Oklahoma Sooners are back to business as Lincoln Riley and crew prepare for a road bout against the TCU Horned Frogs.

Last time we saw OU, the Crimson & Cream was unable to make a stop that would’ve potentially led to a comeback for the ages in the Red River Showdown. Two days later, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was officially out and Ruffin McNeill was moved up in his place with an interim tag.

Looking forward, TCU (3-3, 1-2) has struggled since a hard-fought game against Ohio State. The Horned Frogs have lost three of their last four games overall and have averaged less than 16 points per game in their last three outings. The most telling stat is their -1.5 turnover margin on the season, which ranks 125th nationally.

Oklahoma has also defeated Gary Patterson’s club in six of seven meetings since the Horned Frogs joined the conference. Most contests have been close, but the Sooners’ two 2017 wins came by a combined score of 79-37.

Lincoln Riley spoke on the upcoming matchup in Fort Worth, as well as the week that was during Monday’s press conference.

According to Lincoln Riley, the bye week coupled with the move at defensive coordinator has reinvigorated the defense and the team as a whole. Here’s what Riley had to say about how the team’s overall response he’s since observed:

“(The team) had a good mentality all week. Where does that stem from? Probably a little bit of all of it. I think for us it’s just about kind of chasing and fighting to get to a point where we can play the way that we know we’re capable of, and doing it more consistently. I think everybody’s got that sense of urgency. Does the new voice help? Probably some. […] I thought we responded great. The staff came together with obviously a little bit different set-up now. We’re really organized, really working well together, and our players had a good week of practice.”

Last week, emotions were high in the aftermath of Mike Stoops’ firing. True freshman starting defensive back Brendan ‘Bookie’ Radley-Hiles made a post on Twitter insinuating the disconnect between Stoops and some of the defensive players before deleting the tweet. Riley was asked about his thoughts on the matter.

“Last week was an emotional week. He put something out there that as he sat there and thought about it, decided he didn’t want to do it. He took it down himself. It was an emotional week. If throughout that whole week all we get is one tweet like that, then we probably did pretty decent.”

Although the Horned Frogs’ offense has taken a step back from last season, Gary Patterson’s defense is still one of the better units in the Big 12. Riley was asked about what makes TCU so adept on the defensive side of the ball on a yearly basis.

“They got a system that’s been in place for so long. You can tell the players know it inside and out. He’s done a great job, you can tell, with really zeroing in and recruiting the kind of guys that he wants on that defense. They’ve always for a long time I’ve thought been able to project guys that played other positions in high school, and done a great job developing players.”

One of the biggest areas of emphasis for Riley since he’s taken over as head coach has been along the recruiting front. With a major coaching change coming in the middle of the season, Riley was asked about what he and the rest of the coaching staff will tell recruits as national signing day for the class of 2019 approaches.

“We’re just honest with (the recruits). Honest with them about why we made the decision, how we’ll handle it going forward, and I think they appreciate that. We’ve always been extremely open and honest with our recruits, with their families. I think that’s a big part of it. I know I’ve talked about that a little bit last week. They get OU is one of the most stable places, and this is one of the most stable situations that you’ll find anywhere, but this is also still a very unstable coaching world, and those changes happen from time to time.”

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Starting left tackle Evans was asked about the team’s attitude going into the TCU game. Coming off a loss against a rival is always tough, and sitting on that loss for an extra week has made the team even hungrier to get back into the win column.

The Sooners’ signal caller was his usual calm and cool self at Monday’s presser. In light of the loss to Texas and the coaching change, Murray was asked about the practices during the bye week.

“This bye week was definitely one of our most competitive practices of the year since camp. I think we got a lot of good one-on-one work in, good-on-good work in, it was competitive all week. I think that’ll come into this week. Everybody’s refreshed. Going into TCU, I think it’ll be a good week of practice for us, and we’ll be ready to go.”

Sophomore cornerback Tre Norwood was the lone defensive player during Monday’s presser. He spoke for the defense in taking responsibility for the group’s sub-par performances that ultimately led to Mike Stoops’ dismissal.

Now that Mike Stoops is no longer in the picture, first-year defensive analyst and former DI head coach Bob Diaco was moved up to coach the outside linebackers in Stoops’ stead. Riley spoke a little about Diaco in his new role.

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